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Stoics and Cicero saw humanity as Stoics and Cicero saw humanity as a single unit. Christianity revolutionized moral discourse. Philosophy, using logic, evidence, and dialectic, developed in both China and Greece. Practical politics was developed by Aristotle and the Indian Kautilya. Chinese and Greek thinkers investigated the origin and purpose of the state. This book covers political philosophy, religious ideology, public ethics, constitutional theory, and official and popular political culture.

Ancient and Medieval Political Theory - George Klosko

Keywords: monarchy , justice , the state , democracy , the Greeks , Confucius , liberty , meritocracy , rule of law , nation. Forgot password? Don't have an account? All Rights Reserved. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Sign in. Not registered? Sign up. In it Locke proposes a state of nature theory that directly complements his conception of how political development occurs and how it can be founded through contractual obligation. Locke stood to refute Sir Robert Filmer 's paternally founded political theory in favor of a natural system based on nature in a particular given system.

The theory of the divine right of kings became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of ridicule with which John Locke treated it. Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes but like Aquinas, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal. Unlike Aquinas's preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from original sin , Locke believes man's mind comes into this world as tabula rasa.

For Locke, knowledge is neither innate, revealed nor based on authority but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation. According to Locke, an absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and seeking peace and survival for man. The Marxist critique of capitalism—developed with Friedrich Engels —was, alongside liberalism and fascism, one of the defining ideological movements of the twentieth century. The industrial revolution produced a parallel revolution in political thought.

Urbanization and capitalism greatly reshaped society. During this same period, the socialist movement began to form. In the midth century, Marxism was developed, and socialism in general gained increasing popular support, mostly from the urban working class. Without breaking entirely from the past, Marx established principles that would be used by future revolutionaries of the 20th century namely Vladimir Lenin , Mao Zedong , Ho Chi Minh , and Fidel Castro.

Though Hegel 's philosophy of history is similar to Immanuel Kant 's, and Karl Marx 's theory of revolution towards the common good is partly based on Kant's view of history—Marx declared that he was turning Hegel's dialectic, which was "standing on its head", "the right side up again". In addition, the various branches of anarchism , with thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin , Pierre-Joseph Proudhon or Peter Kropotkin , and syndicalism also gained some prominence. In the Anglo-American world, anti-imperialism and pluralism began gaining currency at the turn of the 20th century.

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World War I was a watershed event in human history, changing views of governments and politics. The Russian Revolution of and similar, albeit less successful, revolutions in many other European countries brought communism —and in particular the political theory of Leninism , but also on a smaller level Luxemburgism gradually —on the world stage. At the same time, social democratic parties won elections and formed governments for the first time, often as a result of the introduction of universal suffrage. From the end of World War II until , when John Rawls published A Theory of Justice , political philosophy declined in the Anglo-American academic world, as analytic philosophers expressed skepticism about the possibility that normative judgments had cognitive content, and political science turned toward statistical methods and behavioralism.

In continental Europe, on the other hand, the postwar decades saw a huge blossoming of political philosophy, with Marxism dominating the field. Communism remained an important focus especially during the s and s. Colonialism and racism were important issues that arose. In general, there was a marked trend towards a pragmatic approach to political issues, rather than a philosophical one. Much academic debate regarded one or both of two pragmatic topics: how or whether to apply utilitarianism to problems of political policy, or how or whether to apply economic models such as rational choice theory to political issues.


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The rise of feminism , LGBT social movements and the end of colonial rule and of the political exclusion of such minorities as African Americans and sexual minorities in the developed world has led to feminist, postcolonial , and multicultural thought becoming significant. This led to a challenge to the social contract by philosophers Charles W. Mills in his book The Racial Contract and Carole Pateman in her book The Sexual Contract that the social contract excluded persons of colour and women respectively.

In Anglo-American academic political philosophy, the publication of John Rawls 's A Theory of Justice in is considered a milestone. Rawls used a thought experiment , the original position , in which representative parties choose principles of justice for the basic structure of society from behind a veil of ignorance. Rawls also offered a criticism of utilitarian approaches to questions of political justice. Robert Nozick 's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , which won a National Book Award , responded to Rawls from a libertarian perspective and gained academic respectability for libertarian viewpoints.

Contemporaneously with the rise of analytic ethics in Anglo-American thought, in Europe several new lines of philosophy directed at critique of existing societies arose between the s and s. Most of these took elements of Marxist economic analysis, but combined them with a more cultural or ideological emphasis.

Along somewhat different lines, a number of other continental thinkers—still largely influenced by Marxism—put new emphases on structuralism and on a "return to Hegel ". Within the post- structuralist line though mostly not taking that label are thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze , Michel Foucault , Claude Lefort , and Jean Baudrillard.

The Situationists were more influenced by Hegel; Guy Debord , in particular, moved a Marxist analysis of commodity fetishism to the realm of consumption, and looked at the relation between consumerism and dominant ideology formation. Another debate developed around the distinct criticisms of liberal political theory made by Michael Walzer , Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor. The liberal - communitarian debate is often considered valuable for generating a new set of philosophical problems, rather than a profound and illuminating clash of perspective.

Bell argue that, contra liberalism, communities are prior to individuals and therefore should be the center of political focus. Communitarians tend to support greater local control as well as economic and social policies which encourage the growth of social capital. A pair of overlapping political perspectives arising toward the end of the 20th century are republicanism or neo- or civic-republicanism and the capability approach.

POLITICAL THEORY - John Locke

The resurgent republican movement aims to provide an alternate definition of liberty from Isaiah Berlin 's positive and negative forms of liberty, namely "liberty as non-domination. To a republican the mere status as a slave, regardless of how that slave is treated, is objectionable. Prominent republicans include historian Quentin Skinner , jurist Cass Sunstein , and political philosopher Philip Pettit.

The capability approach, pioneered by economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen and further developed by legal scholar Martha Nussbaum , understands freedom under allied lines: the real-world ability to act. Both the capability approach and republicanism treat choice as something which must be resourced.

Ancient & Medieval Political Theory

In other words, it is not enough to be legally able to do something, but to have the real option of doing it. Another important strand of contemporary political theory in North America draws on thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche , Michel Foucault , and Gilles Deleuze , among others, to develop critiques and articulate alternatives to the sufficiency of the liberal - communitarian debate and republicanism discourse.

Since the s, these political theorists, broadly engaging the " genealogical approach ", " deconstruction ", and "weak ontology ", have expanded the scope of political theory and issued a variety of arguments on topics such as pluralism , agonism , gender performativity , secularism [32] [33] , and more recently the Anthropocene [34] and the non-human turn [35].

The works of Judith Butler , William E. Current emphasis on "commoditization of the everyday" has been decried by many contemporary theorists, some of them arguing the full brunt of it would be felt in ten years' time. A prominent subject in recent political philosophy is the theory of deliberative democracy. A larger list of political philosophers is intended to be closer to exhaustive.


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  • From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the academic journal, see Political Theory journal. For the work by Baruch Spinoza, see Tractatus Politicus. Primary topics.

    Political philosophy

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